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Why “Toast”?

A 13-year-old from San Diego, California, wonders: Why do we call that breakfast staple toast instead of, say, toasted bread? It’s natural to find shortcuts for such terms; we’ve also shortened pickled cucumbers to just pickles. This is...

Eat the Grindstone

The books we love as children may influence our careers more than we realize. As a child, Martha was fascinated with stories of cracking codes, and Grant loved books with glossaries–not that far from the kind of work they do today. A caller...

Baffies

Baffies—not bathies—is a Scottish term for the slippers you might wear in the morning to and from the shower, cooking breakfast, or doing just about anything during the transition from barefootedness to having real shoes on. This is part of a...

Bacon and Eggs vs. Eggs and Bacon

Which comes first in this favorite breakfast combo: bacon and eggs, or eggs and bacon? Neither are totally idiomatic, but bacon and eggs is most common. This is part of a complete episode.

Lord Love a Duck

Someone should write a love letter to a new book called Letters of Note. It’s a splendid collection of all kinds of correspondence through the ages: Elvis Presley fans writing to the president, children making suggestions to famous...

Hitchcock’s MacGuffins

A MacGuffin isn’t the name of a breakfast sandwich, but it could be — that is, if a movie involves characters trying to get that sandwich. The MacGuffin, also spelled McGuffin or maguffin, is any object in a film that drives the story...

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